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London - where should I live for eating purposes?

Hello,

My wife and I will be moving to London from a small town in northern Utah - a complete food wasteland. My job will be near King's Cross and I'm trying to figure out where to live. I think we will have to keep the rent below 1400/month, so really high end neighborhoods are out.

The reason I'm posting here is because my number one concern is food and drink - access to good markets, real ale, ethnic diversity, low prices - but still a few nicer places, cheese, meats, etc. Access to entertainment, museums, clubs, theater, etc. is much less important.

Basically, if chowhounders were choosing where to live in London, with a fairly limited amount of disposable cash, what neighborhood would you choose?

Thanks!

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  1. East London. I'm moving to Green St more or less for its market and to get FAR away from Central London. That might be a bit far east for you, but the tube works OK enough (minus the fact that you can expect at least one MASSIVE signal failure a week and that the lack of air conditioning makes it hotter than a sauna during summer rush hours.)

    Others can offer closer and more realistic choices, but I would personally go east.

    3 Replies
    1. re: JFores

      Thank you for the feedback - is this Green St in E13? Is the market there called Green St. Market?

      1. re: juniorworm

        Yeah it is. Shepherds Bush and Stoke Newington are also very nice for this purpose. Good markets, restaurants, very diverse, etc. Green St's tube line is also not the fastest thing on Earth but you can get just about anywhere central in well under an hour. It used to take me only 30-40 mins to get all the way to Marble Arch from there.

        1. re: JFores

          I work in Shepherd's Bush and I wouldn't want to live there - it's a bit of a dump. Stoke Newington is much nicer, but it's not on the tube which is a problem for me.

    2. I assume you mean £1400. I'll let others discuss London proper, but for that amount you could get a very nice flat south of London but near good transportation to King's Cross. I'm thinking of a semi-suburb like Sutton which has a direct rail link to King's Cross. It wouldn't be as drastic a switch as Utah to London, but maybe you want the big city experience. You'll like the supermarkets here... full of interesting products and ethnic varieties.

      2 Replies
      1. re: zuriga1

        Yes, sorry I did mean £1400, not USD. I am hoping to have something resembling an urban experience, as I've been living in a succession of small college towns for the last 20 years.

        1. re: juniorworm

          Being an American, I know just what you mean. Go for it!!

      2. What are you hoping to get for your £1400? I haven't been in the rental market for a long time, but you should be able to live pretty centrally for that, depending on your needs. For example, my friend rents out a one-bedroom flat in Herne Hill for less than a grand a month. That's 15 minutes on the overground train to King's Cross, and you're near Brixton Market and a wealth of independent shops in both Brixton and Herne Hill. You might also want to consider Islington (although I've got no idea what the rents are like round there at the moment). Loads of restaurants there, a farmer's market on a Saturday, and very close to King's Cross.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Hermano Primero

          In defense of Surrey (my adopted home), it's a huge area. Sutton is Surrey but 30 minutes away by car and right on the Capital One line to Kings X. The trains are good - we get to choose direct service from here to either Victoria or Waterloo. I'm not a great fan of long commutes for work - easier the better.

          To keep on topic, I agree that most people would find shopping and eating out much more convenient in London than further out. Age is a factor, too, at times. I've done the eat out all the time routine years ago and it's usually easier (and better) to eat home more nowadays. Different strokes for different folks etc. I'd love to talk to all you guys in about 30 years. :-)

        2. I've been living a couple of tube stops south from Kings Cross for the last eight years or so and haven't looked back (I used to live on the Putney/Barnes borders which was ok but the commute was hell). Most places I need to go to are only a short walk, bus or tube ride away.

          Kings X used to be a bit of a sketchy area but is being redeveloped at a pace especially since the opening of the Eurostar Terminal at St Pancras. You could walk to work and transport anywhere else would be a cinch. Food wise it's not perfect but picking up. In any case the transport links help.

          There's a lot of new development around Borough (near London Bridge) which is SE1 postcode and is five stops from Kings X on the Northern Line. And of course you have Borough Market nearby although it is fast becoming a bit too much of a tourist trap these days.

          West London especially places like Shepherds Bush and Notting Hill are popular although using the Circle Line might age you prematurely.

          In Stoke Newington you'll get plenty of diversity and mostly Kurdish/Turkish food.

          You may find this site useful which shows all sorts of stats for various areas:

          http://www.upmystreet.com/

          There's also a new edition of the TO Guide for Londoners which has good descriptions of the various areas:

          http://www.timeout.com/products/lonfl...

          Finally and most importantly don't live anywhere with a post code that begins with SW.

          1 Reply
          1. re: juniorworm

            stoke newington is n16. it's not got great transport but can easily take a bus to finsbury park and take the piccadilly down to kigns cross. lots of turkish food and other restaraunts around and easy to get down to kingsland road for vietnamese. islington which is n1 is full of americas it's got a great farmers market on sunday, but you'll get a smaller flat and the food is more expensive (one plus is there are two burrito joints on islington high street and you can't get a decent burrito many places in the city).

          2. Thinking about it, (and I have no idea on the cost), if I was coming to London to work in King's Cross I'd probably try to live in Clerkenwell/Farringdon. Lots of good places to eat in that area, Exmouth Market, Smithfields, and within walking distance of both work and lots of places in the West End. Not much in the way of markets, I suppose, but I think there's one weekly in the street where Snazz Sichuan is, and you can always hop on the Tube or bus to either Borough or Islington Farmer's Market on a Saturday.

            3 Replies
            1. re: greedygirl

              Good call. There's plenty of decent boozers in the area too.

              There's Chapel Market as well although I haven't been for a while. And you're not that far from Steve Hatt the fishmongers.

              Many of the Upper Street restaurants leave a lot to be desired though.

              http://www.urbanpath.com/london/fishm...

              1. re: greedygirl

                Clerkenwell/Farringdon certainly look ideally located. I'd much prefer to live a pretty small place and be able to walk or bike to work than live outside the city in a larger joint and have to commute.

                1. re: juniorworm

                  Although you won't be around during the day, there is a market on Whitecross Street and on Thurs/Fri, there are vendors from Borough Market such as Neal's Dairy Yard, the chorizo and rocket sandwich guys and the bakers selling brownies (sorry, don't remember their names now!) The area isn't great for ethnic stuff though.

              2. Clerkenwell/Faringdon would be good. Another possibility is near Waterloo. A few reasonable restaurants, near enough to Borough Market, brilliant for theatre and music if you have time between meals, exceeelent for transport, lovely walk across the River to lots of restaurants around Covent Garden.

                1. I work in King's Cross and there's a number of good locations closeby. I am moving soon too so have been looking into it :-)

                  South London, for me, is alot of hassle when commuting North. I've always lived North prior to my current flat so I am a little biassed.

                  Queen's Park, near Kilburn, is less than 30 minutes from King's Cross and has a gorgeous bakery, deli, gastropub and so-so noodle bar. It's got a great farmer's market every Sunday. It's very pretty and has a lovely park. £1400 would get you an appartment, a very nice 1 bed or decent 2 bed. I used to live near here and loved it.

                  Crouch End isn't on the tube but is very close to King's Cross on the bus. It's a lovely bohemian urban village with lots of independent shops. I'll probably move here, unless I find somewhere in Stoke Newington first. Stoke Newington is similar but trendier and close to Islington with great pubs and places to eat. The 73 bus would have you in King's Cross in 20 minutes,a nd it runs every couple of minutes. Islington's Upper St is rammed with restaurants and King's Cross has really come on too. I've been here 5 years and, really, 5 years ago people were not coming here to eat! But, now with St Pancras, Acorn House, Konstam and lots of gastropubs, there's a sea change.

                  Good luck with your decision!

                  1. Couple of other things have occurred to me (apologies if they've already been covered).

                    You mentioned real ale so I assume you're already a fan or want to be. The majority of the lager style beers in this country are nasty, cynical, chemical brews that will leave you with a bad hangover and an empty pocket. Compare with real ale which to my mind is one of the best foodie bargains in the UK.

                    Consider that your'e getting (in most cases) a well crafted product for usually under three pounds. Also, the variety is enormous. If you haven't already got the habit it's one well worthing aquiring.

                    Speaking of cost if you want to make your pound go further have a look at this site:

                    http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/

                    The guy's style isn't to everyone's taste but he really knows hist stuff. He has some books out as well.

                    The other absolutely essential thing is get an Oyster Card as soon as you can otherwise you'll end you end paying through the nose for transport.

                    https://oyster.tfl.gov.uk/oyster/entr...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Hermano Primero

                      Real ale - oh yes! When I interviewed for my job I went to several pubs and while the lagers were miserable, the real ale was spectacular. Most of the current microbrews in the states are extremely hoppy - the real ales I tried were a great temperature, not overly hoppy, yet still unspeakable tasty. I can't wait. Also thanks for the link the moneysavingexpert. I've still got my oyster card from the interview and was amazed at the cost reduction.

                    2. I'm also idly considering moving to London. On my last trip there I asked a similar question--where do I live for the food?? Didn't get any great answers, but I was told that apparently there's a map online somewhere that shows where different ethnicities live? I'd be interested to know where the ethnic neighborhoods are (from a Chowhounderly perspective!). I still miss Oakland and living near a giant Korean market and neighborhood. Have definitely not been able to replicate that in Dublin!

                      If anyone knows where this so-called maps is, or can tell me where in London I can live near some deadly Asian markets, I'd appreciate it!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Lina

                        The Korean neighbourhood in London is concentrated in New Malden, but I'm not sure you'd want to live there!

                        For Asian markets, the best area is Chinatown, obviously, but that's not really a residential area unless you've got money to burn. There are other, smaller ones outside of central London though - I have an Asian supermarket five minutes from my house in Brixton/Herne Hill, and there's another branch in Camberwell (both in South London). There are also superstores which tend to be on the outskirts, eg Wing Yip have branches in Edgeware and Croydon, and there another chain called Hoo Hing.

                        http://www.hoohing.com/stores/index.htm

                        You might also consider buying a little book called Food Lover's London, which gives you the low-down on where to find different cuisines.

                        http://www.amazon.co.uk/Food-Lovers-L...

                        1. re: Lina

                          London doesn't really have ethnic specific areas. There are a handful, but generally even if a Londoner says "Oh -insert area- is a -insert group- area" it only means that about 50% of the population is from that group if that much. Much more ethnic mixing and much less clear cut national lines (as in ei. NYC or even Paris.)

                          1. re: Lina

                            I don't think ethnicities are so segregated like they are in the states. I mean, you've got New Malden for Koreans and Southall, Bethnal Green for Asians but ethnicities are more mixed up across the capital.

                          2. Here's a few general thoughts:
                            1. Geography and transport: London is a very spread out city, so where you live does matter. If you live centrally, it's easier to get N/S/E/W but if you live far out in one direction, it takes an hour or more to cross town. Consider both rail and underground links -- the rail system is very extensive and depending on the line as frequent. But two rail stops from the terminus is often a cheaper place to live than two underground stops, even though it takes as long. Stare down the rail and underground map of King's X and draw your radius.
                            2. The markets in London are a great resource, and I personally would want to live within walking distance of a market. Currently I walk to Marylebone Market, which is small, but meets my needs. If I were to move, I would probably live somewhere near Borough -- though overrun with people, it's still a great market. It will definitely give you that not-in-Utah-anymore feeling!
                            3. Space versus location -- In your first year, you might want to get a smaller place, that is central, so you can explore the city and figure out where you would want to be longer term.

                            Good luck with the move.

                            BB

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: bombaybeauty

                              junior worm - commuting in london is hell, so I'd advise you to try to get as close to Kings Cross as possible. The station itself is the city's main transport hub - 3/4 main rail lines; 5 tube lines and countless bus routes so its a perfect place to venture out for different food experiences. I live in nearby Clerkenwell and I reckon you may be able to get a one bed for £1400 a month here but you'd be lucky! Kings cross is cheaper, caledonian rd and holloway rd even cheaper (as they are still up and coming, not trendy yet , though easily walkable from Kings X) so I would try there.
                              Stoke Newington has been mentioned but, although 'hip' it has lousy transport links and you are dependent on buses which are often packed, meaning you often have to wait 30 mins for an empty one. A friend has recently moved from there to Holloway Rd and she loves it - it's just easier to get to, great for shopping ie Waitrose. M&S and Morrisons(!) and great for getting to nearby islington. It's on the tube map, so check it out. And good luck x

                            2. Okay, where to start? Is that 1400 GBP or USD? I think you mean, sadly, $1400. You are going to have a very small flat!

                              Stoke Newington is great for cheap, delicious food (notably the Blue Legume), and transport links are good. I should know--I live there. There's this thing called a "bus" ;), and it will take you to Islington (not a bad place to live, but probably not in your budget.), which despite its high real estate prices does have lots of cheap food, some of which has been reviewed in The Gannet ( http://thegannet.net ). Try the S&M Cafe, Thai Square, Browns, or one of the three burrito places that have cropped up (Tortilla, Mucho Mas, Poblano--which is actually a stand in Chapel Market).

                              However, if I were choosing a place to live based on food offerings, I'd try to settle in near Borough Market (at London Bridge station). But there goes the "inexpensive" criterion!

                              There is a spot that is looking increasingly like it might be a good match for you: Shoreditch. Shoreditch is great if you can stand lots of teenagers with haircuts, and it's near lots of good, inexpensive places to eat, such as Cay Tre (Vietnamese) and all of Brick Lane (Bengali/Indian). And it's in spitting distance of places like Bethnal Green (Santa Maria del Buen Ayre) and is not far away from Borough. Hoxton might be a cheaper alternative to Shoreditch, if the rent prices seem too much.

                              London isn't quite like other cities where the bad areas encompass entire neighbourhoods. There *are* places like that, but you'll find it goes by streets. Just be aware of Council Estates (US: Housing Projects)--not all bad--but seldom really good, either.

                              You'll find the natives complain a lot about the city, but it's my favourite one so far, and I've lived in many.

                              1. Having lived in the Stoke Newington/Finsbury Park/Highbury areas for the past 7 years I think they have everything you are looking for and are still close to Kings Cross. People are right about transport in Stokie, though there is more than the 73 and it depends on what time you travel as well, so travel into work a little earlier and miss the rush hour. Or live on the Highbury side of Clissold Park (The park is really nice and part of Stokie), then you can catch a bus for 5 min to Manor House and then the Picc Line to Kings cross in 10 min. Look online for local estate agents and email them your requirements and you'll get an idea of what is available. We bought 2 years ago in the area and used David Andrew Estate agents and found them to be really good. Good luck with your decision and as you can see from the replies you have plenty of great options.. enjoy!

                                1. I'm a Canadian expat living in London. My boyfriend and I have a two bed flat in Borough for just under £1400/month. We're a 5 min walk from Borough tube station and a roughly 10 minute walk from Borough Market.

                                  My boyfriend works at King's X and it's pretty much exactly 25 min away on the tube (just jump on the northern line, no changes). If the weather's nice he walks back from work sometimes, which is a pleasant 45min-1 hour walk by St-Paul's cathedral and along the Thames. It definitely gives you that "big city" feel.

                                  I love living in Borough thanks to the market. I know there are some complaints of it getting too touristy, but if you can just stay away from Saturday afternoons it's still great. There's also a wealth of nice restaurants in the area, and the walk along the Thames from around London Bridge to Waterloo is one of my favorite things to do on a sunny day.

                                  We often jump on the tube to Covent Garden or Holborn if we want more of a "London" experience. I would really highly recommend the Borough/London Bridge area, both for food and just quality of life.

                                  1. If I had my druthers, I'd live in Marylebone. But £1400 is not going to get you much in that area, unfortunately. It's great though because you're close to Regent's Park and there are a ton of restaurants down and around Marylebone High Street and Baker Street and Oxford Street. Plus, all that shopping!

                                    I'm a Clerkenwell gal myself. It's great to be so close to St. John, and a short tube ride or bus ride to Borough Market. Also, there's Whitecross Street during the week for lunch and Exmouth Market as well. Also, for me it's just a short walk up to Angel and Upper Street (although the main strip is a bit chain-ified, there are lots and lots of options.). Someone has already mention Steve Hatt on the Essex Road and there's a butcher not far up. La Fromagerie in Highbury as well.

                                    I think £1400 will get you a decent one bedroom in Clerkenwell or Angel. If you go up to the top part of Upper Street by Highbury, rents come down a bit. Also if you go west closer around Liverpool Road that's a better value. (No one has mentioned this though: Don't use Foxtons for your flat hunting. They're crazy. Great Web site, but hard hard sell.)

                                    Stokey is fun and up-and-coming but you'll be on the bus a lot.

                                    1. I'm making a pitch for West London. Chiswick is not the cheapest, but we do have a huge selection of places to eat out, including the divine La Trompette, and newer informal brasseries such as Sam's Brasserie (backed by Rick Stein,) Fishworks, La Vino Rosso and
                                      The local food shopping is great. We have 2 fishmongers, an excellent butcher (Mackens) and a fab' greengrocer (M&C). There are also quite a few 'barrows' for fruit & veg and flowers. There is a sizeable French community based here which speaks volumes in itself, including a boulangerie. There is a farmers market every Sunday as well.
                                      For a huge selection of Indian places to eat, Southall is only a 20 min drive, Barnes has some interesting places to eat as well. It's a bit further to Kings Cross, but it's not out of question, and the District line serves us well.
                                      If you're into English beer, there's a huge selection of good pubs including many gastro-pubs - try the Duke of Sussex, The Swan, and Gordon Ramsey's new venture The Devonshire.
                                      I'm not sure that I can really champion ethinic diversity in all honesty - that's the only negative thing I can think of apart from it not being 'cheap' ! At least come and visit. For a local guide try www.chiswickw4.com
                                      Good luck

                                      1. Hounds, how about the Bethnal Green area? I'm now very close to moving (this has been going on a while, hasn't it?) and my potential flatmates want to live in the Bethnal Green/Shoreditch area. What's it like for food? I don't think I've ever been there.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Lina

                                          I like the east end of london, and hang out there alot (although I don't live there). I'd say its pretty decent for food, but equally I like the vibrancy and nightlife in the area.

                                          Nearby highlights include:

                                          Vietnamese places on Kingsland Rd (Song Que, Cay Tre etc)
                                          The legendary Tayabbs in Whitechapel
                                          The Brick Lane Bagel Bakeries
                                          The sunday markets around Bricklane and Spitalfields
                                          The Turkish places in Dalston.
                                          The Hawkesmoor (for steak)
                                          St John on Commercial Street
                                          Rivington Grill on Rivington Street

                                          1. re: foreignmuck

                                            yeah i live in hackney + agree w/ everything foreignmuck just said - also:
                                            - the broadway markets are awesome
                                            - there's the ginger pig in victoria park
                                            - the prince arthur + empress of india are reasonably good gastro-pubs
                                            - gourmet san has good szechuan food
                                            - there are a lot of asian supermarkets on mare st